PhD Position in Pathways for Reversibility of Cardiac Fibrosis
University of Leuven, Experimental Cardiology



The lab of Experimental Cardiology, embedded in the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, is recruiting a PhD student to study plasticity of myofibroblasts in heart failure. The lab has extensively studied cellular mechanisms underlying contractile dysfunction in ischemic cardiomyopathy and heart failure (e.g. Dries et al., 2018). Recent work has focused on the role of fibroblasts, the regional diversity of myofibroblasts after myocardial infarction (Nagaraju et al., 2017), and the potential for phenotypic reversibility of myofibroblasts and fibrosis in heart failure (Verbelen et al., 2018; Nagaraju et al., 2019). The research within the lab is multidisciplinary and translational in nature, and performed in close collaboration with the divisions of Cardiac Imaging, Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery.



In the PhD project,we will identify molecular networks characterizing different myofibroblast phenotypes present in heart failure, using advanced non-biased gene sequencing of tissues and cells. These data will be complemented with functional studies to explore the relevance of specific pathways to myofibroblast differentiation and reversibility. Materials are obtained from human heart failure and preclinical animal models, for which extensive annotation on in vivo cardiac structure and function is available. The project is embedded in a large program on cardiac remodeling, including study of epigenetics of Prof. Llew Roderick,study of right heart failure and the potential for treatment through hemodynamic support devices of Prof. Bart Meyns and Prof. Filip Rega.  


External funding supports the position and the research. The lab has extensive facilities for molecular phenotyping studies and functional confocal imaging,and has access to core facilities for gene sequencing and bioinformatics,complemented with international collaborations. The research group has several postdoctoral and doctoral students. The candidate will acquire skills in molecular biology and cell physiology, and learn the integration of cellular findings into cardiac physiology and pathophysiology.

The candidate will enroll in the Doctoral School offering further training and complementary skills’ development.


Selected references

Dries E, et al. 2018. Hyperactive ryanodine receptors in human heart failure and ischemic cardiomyopathy reside outside of couplons. Cardiovasc Res 114(11):1512-1524.

NagarajuCK, et al. 2017. Global fibroblast activation throughout the left ventricle but localized fibrosis after myocardial infarction. Sci Rep7(1):10801.

NagarajuCK, et al. 2019. Myofibroblast phenotype and reversibility of fibrosis in patients with end-stage heart failure. J Am Coll Cardiol 73(18):2267-2282.

Verbelen et al. 2018. Low-flow support of the chronic pressure-overloaded right ventricle induces reversed remodeling. J Heart Lung Transplant37(1):151-160


  • You hold a Master degree or equivalent in Biomedical or Life Sciences. In-depth knowledge of cellular signaling networks and methods for analysis is expected. Experience with next-generation sequencing and/or bioinformatics is a plus.
  • You are flexible, able to work independently and have a problem-solving attitude.
  • You are highly motivated to work in a multidisciplinary research team, and have excellent communication skills in English.
  • You are expected to write a doctoral thesis after 4 years.

- The Laboratory of Experimental Cardiology offers a fully funded doctoral fellowship in an enthusiastic, multinational and multidisciplinary research group.

- KU Leuven offers a stimulating environment for international students and support for junior scientists.

For more information please contact Prof. dr. Karin Sipido, tel.: +32 16 33 08 15, mail: or Dr. Chandan Kadur Nagaraju, tel.: +32 16 37 94 50, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than September 15, 2019 via the online application tool

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at

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